INDIANAPOLIS, October 9. THE smiles come easier these days for 26 year-old Brooke Hanson, an "overnight sensation" after a decade of frustration.
Hanson, who just missed making the 1996 and 2000 Australian Olympic teams and almost retired, began coming into her own about two years ago, notching first short course then long course wins in the sprint breaststroke and 100 and 200 IMs in a series of international meets. Then came victories in major long course meets. Every win saw her confidence soar and her popularity grow in swim-crazy Australia.
Hanson took silver in the 100 breast in Athens, just nipping teammate Leisel Jones by a hundredth of a second. Then, yesterday, the powerful Gold Coast native took the 50 breast, again defeating a favored teammate (this time, Jade Edmistone) by the same margin — one-hundredth of a second. The Force is definitely with her!
Tonight she was hoping to add the 100 IM to her collection of titles, with a sub-one-minute time the goal. But to get to the top of the podium, she'd have to beat triple-defending champion, Martina Moravcova, not an easy task.
Moravcova had every intention of defending her crown, taking a tiny lead on the fly, then stretching it over the 25 meters of backstroke. At the 50 it was Martina turning first in 27.85, followed by the other Aussie, Shayne Reese, half a second behind. Amanda Beard was third, Finland's Hanna-Maria Seppala fourth, while Hanson languished in fifth.
Not for long!
Hanson rocketed out of the turn and sprinted the lap of breaststroke, passing her competitors as if they were standing still. By the final turn, her lead was well over a body length. Sprinting home, there was simply no stopping her. Hanson touched in 1:00.01, just shy of her goal, but almost a second ahead of teammate Shayne Reese, 1:00.92, giving Australia a 1-2 sweep.
Moravcova was third in 1:00.95, shutting the US out of medals for only the second time in this meet.
Amanda Beard, who finished fifth, was DQ'ed. Katie Hoff was sixth in 1:01.70.